Showing posts with label Wild Birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wild Birds. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Types of Birds: Raptors, BIRDS OF PREY

English: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Birds are sometimes classified by the type of food they eat. For example, birds that are carnivorous in nature are known as birds of prey or raptors. Differences also exist among these types of birds with regard to the animals they feed upon, however, one commonality is, the bigger the bird is the bigger the prey it feeds upon. The size of animals that these birds feed upon is reflected in the bird's physical appearance. Those which feed on larger animals tend to have a bigger and strong beak and nails for tearing their prey.

Some birds feed on insects. These spend most of their time on the ground pecking around for larger insects such as praying mantises and grasshoppers. American kestrels, merlins, owl and Mississippi kites are examples of such birds. There are also some raptors that feed on aquatic animals like fish. These typically live near the coastlines. Bald eagles are an example of such birds of prey. Many of these birds even take the fish from other animals that also eat fish. Thieves!

There are some types of birds which feed on small mammals. Such animals as mice, shrews, gophers and voles constitute food to these birds of prey. Hawks of different types, such as red-tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks and others are among the types of birds of prey that feed on such mammals. Other raptors that do feed on such animals include barn owls, merlins, and northern harriers to mention but a few. These birds catch their prey by skillfully hunting them from above. They either perch and watch out for their prey to appear or they hover in their air in search of their prey.

Surprisingly, there are some types of birds of prey that actually feed on smaller birds instead of on other animals. They can pursue their prey while they are flying, or alternatively, they can catch them on the ground. There are other types of birds of prey that feed on large birds like doves, ducks, pigeons, chickens and others. Such birds of preys include peregrine falcon, goshawk and others. Some other birds of prey feed on animals as large as rabbit, squirrels and others. There are others that feed on carrion, like vultures, who prefer to not take chances on live prey.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Parakeet Auklet (Cyclorrhynchus psittacula) fi...
Parakeet Auklet (Cyclorrhynchus psittacula) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Parakeet Auklet was first identified to science by Simon Peter Pallas (22 September 1741 to 8 September 1811) a zoologist and botanist who worked in Russia. He received his doctorate degree at the age of nineteen the Netherlands at the University of Leiden. He was a voluminous writer, and there are numerous biological species, streets, and an asteroid named after him.

Like all birds, the Parakeet Auklet belongs to Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata (animals having backbones), and Class Aves. It belongs to the Order Charadriiformes, the family Alcidae, the Genus Aethia, and the species Psittacula. Its scientific name, therefore, is Aethia Psittacula. It has also been identified as Cyclorrhynchus Psittacula and Phaleris Psittacula.

The bird has a black head and black upper parts. Its breast, extending to its shoulders, and its belly is white. Its eye is white. There is a distinct white plume that begins at the back edge of the eye and protrudes backward, the length of the head. The short bill is orange and upturned so that the Parakeet Auklet has peculiar fixed expression.

The Parakeet Auklet makes a series of rhythmic hoarse calls and a quavering squeal. It is very vocal at its nesting site. It calls on its own and sings a duet with its mate. It lives in the boreal waters of Alaska, Kamchatka, and Siberia. It finds its food in the ocean, diving as much as 30 meters to catch its prey, which includes jellyfish and small planktonic crustaceans such as euphausiids, copepods, and amphipods. It makes its nest on the rocky cliffs of islands.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


English: Bird feeders in the snow Someone has ...
Bird feeders in the snow Someone have kindly put up these bird feeders on a tree in a public space
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After a long snowy winter as I get to work in the garden I discovered the need to completely redo the birdbaths, birdhouses and other bird-friendly aspects of my garden. Rain, snow, and ice did major damage to the pond, the birdbath fountain, the decorative birdhouses and all the bird feeders. Wow! I didn’t have this much maintenance on my own house. Of course, the bears took out their spring energy on the decorative bird feeders and the raccoons keep hanging off the more unique bird feeder because they appear to love that seed mix. Is there a seed mix that doesn’t attract as much wildlife as it does birds?

I love fancy birdhouses, so do my feathered visitors. They flock to the unique bird feeders and great designs of the decorative birdhouses and argue over who gets to move in. I have a decorative birdhouse shaped like a lighthouse and 2 sets of chickadees got into a rental war before one moved in and made it her own. Some of the residents of my garden prefer the birdhouse feeders. I guess that way they don’t have to go far for food, live upstairs eat downstairs. I also appreciate the more unique bird feeders, especially those designed to thwart the squirrel population. Will someone please explain to me how I can have 4 different kinds of squirrels in one yard?

The raccoons keep taking the pump out of the pond to play with it and they burn out the motor so I decided to switch to a birdbath water fountain where they couldn’t reach the pump. This works great but makes sure to place some rocks in the basin so if someone falls in they can get out again. Even if you have raccoons make sure to have running water in the form of a small birdbath fountain, a birdbath or a pond. Your birds need and enjoy the sound of bubbling water and the availability of fresh water especially as we go into the dog days of summer. Enjoy the finer things in life this summer, enjoy your garden!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

KOOKABURRA - Australian Bird

English: kookaburra laughing bird
Kookaburra laughing bird (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Native to Australia and New Zealand the Kookaburra bird is a large bird (28-42 cm in length and 11-17 inches in height). The Kookaburra was discovered by the English in the mid 18th century. They have a distinct call which sounds like a loud echoing human laughter, these birds are good-natured if not hysterical. You generally will not find this bird by water but they can be found in a humid forest surrounding where food is easily accessible.

Kookaburra is carnivorous, their diet consists of lizards, snakes, insects, and raw meat, The Kookaburra is a territorial bird and they can often be found living with partially grown chicks from the previous mating season. Wild Kookaburras will eat baby birds, snakes, insects, small reptiles and other birds such as finches.

Even though these birds are found only in a relatively small part of the world their unique sound can be found in the soundtrack "jungle sound", they are also used in movies and television as well as being seen in certain Disney park attractions. Also, you can find these birds in popular video games such as Battle toads and World of Warcraft.

They can also be found on postage stamps, the first postage stamp with a Kookaburra was issued as a 6 penny stamp issued in 1914, and also a 38c Austrian stamp with a pair of Kookaburra on it was issued around 1990. Also back in 1990 Australia dedicated a coin to this bird.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

BLUE JAYS - Clever Mimics of the Bird World

A Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) perched on a ...
A Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) perched on a tree branch.
(Photo credit: 
The other morning I followed the sound of what I thought to be a baby hawk, possibly in distress. Walking deeper into the woods as quietly as I could, I stopped often to home in on the insistent sounds. I hoped to catch a glimpse of a juvenile hawk, or at least the nesting site.

I finally reached the spot where the hawk sounds were the loudest. However, much to my surprise it was not a red-shouldered hawk that flew out of the tree, but a blue jay uttering the same shrill but nasal 'keyeer, keeyeer'! It was then I knew I had been fooled by one of the best and most versatile mimics in the bird world.

By sounding like a hawk, blue jays easily scatter other birds at the feeder. This gives them the freedom to dine at their leisure with little to no competition. They also have their own form of insect control. Did you know that blue jays often comb their feathers with ants? Presumably, they are using the insects to catch and remove lice and other irritating parasites. Very clever birds!

For at least 15 years now, every Spring there is a very special blue jay that comes to my feeder. This jay has always imitated the sound of an old rotary phone being dialed. It is a very unique sound. I must admit that I look forward to hearing it again every year. I know that jays are long-lived, and my phone dialer is the proof!

In addition to being raucous and sometimes aggressive, blue jays can be gentle and quiet. I watched as two males vied for the attention of a beautiful soft gray-blue female. They each flew from branch to branch cooing softly and trying to get closer to her. Then one male would fly upwards engaging the female to do the same. The pair gently floated downwards in a spiral of unfurled wings, landing on the ground and then retreating to separate branches.

This happened several times as each male took turns trying to impress the female with body bobbing and soft comforting sounds. All three flew off together to another spot in the woods to repeat the same dance. I can only imagine how long it took that female to finally decide which male blue jay was to be her mate. It was fun and fascinating to watch.

Blue Jays are very secretive when it comes to building nests. They use alternate routes and decoy locations so that no predator can easily follow them to the nesting site. They love shiny objects and will often incorporate bits of foil wrappers into their loose twig nests. They like a well-decorated home as much as we humans do! There will be as few as three or as many as seven olive-green eggs covered with brown spots.

Burying stores of food to be unearthed later when food sources are scarce is another tactic employed by these large 11" to 12" birds. Their favorites are sunflower seeds, peanuts, cracked corn, pieces of stale bread or baked goods, suet, and berries. They are also fond of other birds' eggs, so it is a good idea to provide protection in the way of birdhouses and nesting boxes.

Sometimes here in the northeast, if the Winter is relatively mild, our blue jays will stay. It is so nice to see their beautiful blue coloring against the white snow. Jays have a white face, black collar, blue wings and back with a blue tail trimmed with white and black feathers. Their distinctive blue crest will give a hint as to what they are feeling. For instance, when they are calm their crest will be flattened. On the other hand, if they are in an aggressive mood, the crest will be pointed forward.

When both colorful cardinals and blue jays appear on a grey, snow-covered day, it is a sight that helps the winter months seem not quite so long. It is no wonder that they are very often depicted on holiday greeting cards!

My clever blue jays never cease to amaze me with their beauty, aggressive raucousness and mimicry. I look forward to watching them grab a bite to eat at the feeders before winging their way easily through our woods. They will be back many times during the day with the now familiar 'keeyeer' to scatter the smaller birds--self-proclaimed kings and queens of the backyard bird feeder!

    By Connie M Smith
    Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl's Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive. Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance, and beauty to your landscape. Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders, and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Visit today!
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Bully of the Bird Feeders or When MOCKINGBIRDS Destroy Your WILD BIRD Platform Feeder Plans

English: Two Northern Mockingbirds at a bird b...
Two Northern Mockingbirds at a bird bath in Austin, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mockingbirds are well recognized to be territorial, and they can seize bird suet feeders and force timid birds away. When other territorial birds, or bullies, take over a feeder, you can usually stop them by modifying the birds feed. Mockingbirds, however, would rather have foods like worms, suet, berries, and insects, but if you're handing out free feed, they will crash your wild bird feeder party every time. Not only do they try to power out other garden birds, but also challenge dogs, cats, and, at times, dive-bomb a human being to let him know who's in charge of the garden bird feeder. It can be really difficult to get rid of a mockingbird once he has made himself feel at home. Your wild bird feeder plans could be pushed off track by these dictatorial birds.

If you can't beat them, join them - or at the very least allow the mockingbirds to dwell in your backyard. Mockingbirds are usually not all bad, obviously; they are really following their natural inclination to assert themselves. They are able to help keep unwanted critters away from your garden, and learning to comprehend their sound is one thing any garden bird lover will enjoy. Even so, perhaps essentially the most prevalent reason why individuals allow mockingbirds to stay in their backyard is that they really don't have any alternative! Mockingbirds will stay for as long as they receive food, even if it is foodstuff that they might not favor if offered an alternative.

Many people try to post plastic or wood owl or hawk posters to stop the mockingbird from coming back, although this is unreliable, and on a regular basis, the mockingbird will catch on that these "fake enemies" are really no threat. A different rather time-consuming, not to mention foolish, a concept is to fill a big squirt gun with soapy water and squirt the mockingbird every instance it comes into your backyard or gets close to the hopper feeder.

What if you do not wish to give up putting out bird food or birdseed simply because you do want to encourage other kinds of garden birds to pay a visit to your backyard and you also want your mockingbirds to stay. How do you get across the really serious obstacle that the mockingbird presents? Try sketching up a different package of garden bird plans and making one more feeder to locate in a different area of your backyard. If at all feasible, make sure to place a green or artificial barrier in between the brand new bird tube feeder and the bird feeder your mockingbird has occupied. A lawn hedge or a wall can get the job done You might also put the other bird tube feeder on the opposite part of your house or a different building. The other birds will begin to come to this bird feeder, whilst the mockingbird is still left to rule over his.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Ugly Looking CROWS

American or Northwestern Crow adjacent to the ...
American or Northwestern Crow adjacent to the Burke-Gilman Trail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Crows are very common birds most frequently observed in the sky. They are actually passerine birds belonging to the genus Corvus and family Corvidae. Their body size may vary from small pigeon to large wild raven. They are the inhabitants of temperate regions except for South America. The genus was described by Linnaeus for the first time in his 18th century work Systema Naturae. The name of the genus has been derived from a Latin word meaning raven. Fossils of crow have been obtained in Europe in large numbers but their relationship with most prehistoric birds is still unclear.

Common Raven, Australian Raven, and the Carrion crows are always blamed for killing weak lambs as they are often seen feeding on the dead animals no matter how that animal died. They are also known to imitate human voices just like the parrots. They are often trained to speak and are very valuable birds in East Asia as they symbolize good luck. They are also kept as pets by some humans. In the United States, they are legally allowed to be killed around the months of August to the end of March as during this time they become a nuisance also acts as a vector for a number of diseases. It is believed that crows first evolved in central Asia and then radiated towards North America, Europe, Australia, and Africa.

They are known to produce to produce a wide variety of calls for communication. They are also known to respond to the call of other species. They show remarkable features of intelligence. Crows have a special place in literature and mythology. According to the popular legends in Europe crows especially the Ravens are considered as the harbingers of death because of their dark ugly looking black colored body, big size, and horrible look. It is believed that they feed on the carrion even of humans too. In mythology also crows symbolize spiritual aspects of death. Crows have been observed hovering around the cemeteries. In Hinduism, it is believed that people after death become crows and will come to eat in the form of crows to pick up the food. In Mahabharata, a famous battle is known that was fought between the crows and owls. It is also believed that if a crow attacks a human ill omen will gather around that person and will bring bad luck.

Crows are also susceptible to viral attack. The American crow is susceptible to the attack of West Nile virus. This disease has been recently introduced in North America. This disease is very fatal and the American crows die within a week after getting infection only a few are able to survive. The virus is spreading at a faster rate. Two American species are considered to be endangered because of habitat destruction.

Wildlife needs our attention otherwise our beautiful animals will be lost forever.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


For most of modern human's existence, say over the past 50,000 to 100,000 years, if we saw something fly under its own power, it was a bird, a bat or an insect - maybe a 'flying' fish or 'flying' fox if you want to stretch things a bit. Relatively few of these feature prominently in any culture's mythology. Bats might have an association with vampires, but your average run-of-the-mill garden variety bird is usually taken for granted - unless they are monstrous in size and like humans for dinner.

If there's nearly one thing universal in Native American mythology it is giant birds, monster birds, even the Thunderbird (which has been adopted as a brand name for many products not to mention the name of a TV show with associated spin-off motion pictures). Now apart from the actual observations of these winged monstrosities, there's nothing all that unusual about giant flying creatures in mythology. What sets these 'birds' apart is that they often like to snack on the natives - as takeaways, not dine in. Is there any natural terrestrial explanation for birds carrying away humans, like a crow picking up a kernel of corn? Or, might one have to resort to another, more unnatural and perhaps extraterrestrial explanation?

English: Piasa Bird on cliffs NW of Alton, IL....
Piasa Bird on cliffs NW of Alton, IL.
(Photo credit: 

Mythological Monster 'Birds' of the Americas

Dragons: While primarily connected with the Old World (Europe, the Far East, etc.), dragons have some, albeit lesser known connection in the New World of the Americas, perhaps a bit more in the guise of serpents, that is taking on a serpentine appearance. This is most notably so with respect to that famous feathered serpent (sounds more like a bird actually) Quetzalcoatl, a central Aztec deity, but noted as well in Mayan culture and that other, and mysterious initial Mesoamerican civilization, the Olmecs.

However, we do have the Piasa Bird which is depicted as a dragon in a Native American Indian mural above the Mississippi River near modern Alton, Illinois. It's thought that the originals were done by the Cahokia Indians way before any white settlers arrived in their territory. Their pictographs of animals, birds such as the falcon, bird-men and serpents (monstrous snakes) were common, as was the Thunderbird icon. According to a local professor living in the area in the 1830's, John Russell, the Piasa Bird depicted in the mural was a monstrous bird that inhabited the area and attacked and ate the locals that inhabited various Indian villages in the area. Apparently it got a taste for human flesh after scavenging human carrion (corpses).

Thunderbirds & Related: These beasties are nearly universal in Native American Indian mythology, and what's more they carry many similar features. They tend to be very large birds that are seen as the personification of thunder (the beating of their wings) and lightning and all things stormy; a sort of Zeus or Thor but with wings, talons, a beak and feathers. The Native Americans believed that the giant Thunderbird could shoot lightning from its eyes. Say what? Even odder is that the Thunderbird often has teeth in its beak. We've all heard the phrase "rare as hen's teeth" - well that's because modern birds are toothless.

Thunderbirds were also associated with the Great Spirits so common in Indian lore. They were servants of these deities and apparently acted as messenger-boys (sorry, messenger-birds) - a sort of extra-large carrier pigeon - carrying communications between these various Great Spirits. Thunderbirds were associated with the weather as we've seen, and also with water. Now an interesting parallel is that dragons in the Old World are often viewed as go-betweens between the gods and humanity (sort of again like carrier pigeons) and their having some control over the weather and the waters was a common feature as well.

So, this mythological monster bird is common throughout Indian legends. Actually in one case there was a Thunderbird that resembled a giant eagle that was large enough, and powerful enough to carry a whale in its claws. Say what again? According to the Makah people of the Northwest Coast, a Thunderbird saved a village from famine by snatching up a whale from the Pacific Ocean and giving it to the community to feed off of, giving the village food lasting for many weeks. Would this be an American example of a case of manna from Heaven? Now no bird could actually carry even a small whale in its beak or talons, so there must be another explanation.

I've previously related how the Navajos have associated Ship Rock (or Shiprock) in New Mexico with a legend that says they were flown by a 'flying rock' (Ship Rock) provided by their Great Spirit to escape their enemies from up north. The Navajos, in other legends, have associated Ship Rock with the presence of 'Bird Monsters' or cliff monsters that preyed and feed on human Navajo and Zunis flesh. I wonder if that could be a garbled tale of UFO abduction.

Related are the tales of the Yaqui from around the Sonora region in NW Mexico. Yaqui legends tell of enormous birds around Skeleton Mountain that carried off men, women and children.

There's a petroglyph at Puerco Pueblo (or village) located in the Petrified Forest National Park of an enormous bird with a human suspended in the air by its beak. If we assume the human is of average height, say 5' 6" tall, then the bird, to scale, is roughly 13' 9" tall. That's one very big bird! The petroglyph was carved into stone many, many hundreds upon hundreds of years ago by the ancestors of the Hopis, maybe even by the lost Anasazis.

When it comes to the Thunderbirds, scholars of mythology strongly suggest that this creature is just the embellishment of the California condor, eagles, or the extinct teratorns. However, to my way of thinking, one doesn't usually associate birds with thunder and lightning (i.e. - storms). Now you may see birds riding the thermals that might precede a storm, but you don't tend to see birds out and about in stormy weather - they seek shelter from the elements too. Yet many tribes like the Lakota Sioux or the Ojibwa of the Great Lakes Region make the connection between these Thunderbirds and lightning in particular. Perhaps the association with something flying and thunder and lightning suggests something a bit more technological!

I mean something that can serve as a monster carrier pigeon between the gods, lift huge weights, abduct humans (recorded in many Indian legends) and shoot out lightning bolts doesn't sound like biology to me, rather more something artificial. Now perhaps all these legends of abducting and man-eating giant birds are nothing more than a rogue eagle or condor with too much testosterone in its system who, feeling threatened, attacked a lone Indian and like the fish that got away, the bird just grew and got embellished, and grew some more and got even more embellished until it reached ridiculous proportions and abilities. Well maybe.

Real Monster 'Birds' of the Americas

Pterosaurs and Pterodactyls: These beasties weren't really birds-of-a-feather, rather just winged and flying (or gliding) reptiles that belonged way back in fact to 'The Age of Reptiles' - the Mesozoic Era. The largest of these discovered (to date) was Quetzalcoatlus, named obviously after that Mesoamerican feathered serpent deity. Quetza-baby had a 36 to 40 foot wingspan, and just might have been able to snack on a human. However, pterosaurs and pterodactyls all went kaput by the end of the Mesozoic - Q-baby made it in fact through to the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 millions of years ago. Alas, that was at least 64 million years before anything resembling humans walked the planet as a food source. While Native Americans were probably aware of the fossils of these flying reptiles, they had nothing to fear from them in terms of being snack-food.

Terror Birds: Well, these terrors really existed in the Americas and for a while were thought to be contemporary with the earliest humans in the Americas. Though they survived and thrived in mainly South America, some made it across the Isthmus of Panama land bridge into Central and North America about 3 million years ago. The most recent of them is now thought to have gone extinct about 1.8 million years ago, well before humans arrived on the scene.

But even assuming humans and terror birds were contemporary, why the terror? Well, these crows-on-steroids were up to ten feet tall and could gallop after you at velocities up to some 37 miles per hour. Relatives of these monsters with equally large beaks and talons have been found in Texas and Florida, and presumable bridged the geographical gap in-between. So, should the natives have been afraid; very afraid? Well, in this case the top apex predators probably succumbed to being ultimately human prey since the terror birds, along with the rest of the North, Central and South American mega-fauna went extinct in pretty quick-smart fashion after humans appeared on the scene. Now humans, if contemporary, probably didn't engage in hand-to-wing combat with these ungodly raptors, but rather found their eggs as a handy-dandy breakfast food supplement to their gatherer nuts-and-berries fare. Alas, no baby terror birds hatchlings; ultimately no terror birds. In any event, terror birds were flightless, like the emus, cassowaries, the ostrich and kiwis, not to mention their extinct cousins the moa and dodos. Thus, terror birds don't fit our description of birds that fly and pluck humans off the ground and feel us to their young.

Giant Condors & Related: The Andean condor at 11 to 15 kg (24 - 33 pounds) is currently the Guinness Book of Records holder for being the America's largest flying feathered member of the avian clan, at least with respect to a roughly 10 to 12 foot wingspan. The California condor at 7 to 14 kg (15 to 31 pounds) comes a very close second with wingspans around ten feet. Then too there was the Pleistocene [Ice Age] teratorns weighing in at 15 kg to 23 kg (33 to 50 pounds), huge raptors resembling eagles with wingspans 12 to 17 feet across.

Overall the wandering albatross is on a par with the Andean condor for title of 'king of the wingspan' (up to 11 feet for the great albatrosses), but it isn't a common sight in North America - then or now. There are several North Pacific varieties which reach the western coast of North America, but because these are sea birds, feeding on seafood although scavenging carrion when on land (remote islands) for breeding purposes. The odds that Native American Indians would have noted the albatross as a regular part of their environment wouldn't have been common for other than those living right on the Pacific Ocean.

Now the sixty-four cent question is, can any one or more of the above account for eyewitness accounts of monster birds abducting their comrades in arms? Well any sane person would eliminate dragons and Thunderbirds - they are mythological and therefore don't exist. One cannot witness non-existence. Pterosaurs and pterodactyls were extinct long before humans were thought up in anyone's philosophy. Terror birds couldn't fly and probably weren't actually contemporary with humans in any event. Condors, while big, aren't big enough. I mean an average human should be large enough to punch a condor's lights right out, and certainly humans are too large to be carried across the condor's threshold.

Condors (Andean or Californian) are actually vultures and thus scavengers, feeding primarily on carrion, even though preferring large carcasses like those of cattle. It has to feed while on the ground, and often stuffs itself silly when it does come across a suitable meal that it can't, for a while, lift itself off the ground. This is hardly a bird likely to be the source of American Indian human-abducting mythology, although the bird certainly features in Native American mythology. However, as the condor is an endangered species, the bird had and has way more reason to fear the natives than the other way around.

The extinct teratorns however were contemporary with humans (Amerindians), but while large enough to cause more than sufficient trouble for a human infant, there's evidence to suggest that overall, the humans were probably more the hunters than the hunted when crunch came crunch.

However, even at a weight of fifty pounds and a wingspan of 17 feet, could a teratorn have actually picked up and carried away an adult human, with a weight say at least twice or thrice that of the raptor? Fossil evidence suggests that small mammals, even fish, and carrion were its usual means of sustenance. Since the Native Americans say it's so - at least according to their mythology - you have to ask yourself whether or not a 50 pound bird, who could obviously carry its own weight and probably a bit more through the air, could actually fly with a 100 to 150 pound payload? That's 150 to 200 pounds all up the bird is carrying. Now that's a pretty big ask.

Has anyone seen an owl or an eagle or other flying raptor carry off prey two to three times its own weight? Now it might be one thing for a very large bird to pick you up (especially if you're dead and not struggling) and carry you off while in contact with the ground, like the terror birds, at least for a short way since after all you're still very heavy compared to the bird. But it's quite other kettle of fish for a bird to pick you up and actually fly away with you without any leg and ground support at all. Flying (flapping wings) is very energy intensive at the best of times (we've all seen birds in gliding mode in order to conserve energy), far less trying to lift up and flap wings with twice or thrice its normal body weight to struggle with.

Now we've all seen wildlife documentaries showing a large carnivorous bird swooping low over the water and then grabbing an unsuspecting fish out of the water with its talons. Now that fish may even be as large and heavy as the bird itself, but the prey can't be that much larger and certainly not twice as large and heavy as the predator. The bird, so close to the water, can not afford to be dragged down by extra unmanageable weight into the water - then it's bye-bye birdie.

Moving back to the land, raptor birds can and do attack prey much larger than themselves. The bones of these large prey animals have been found in the raptor's nests or lairs. An eagle might attack a deer or fawn. The deer can't really defend itself very well out in the open. But that's not to say that the eagle can actually carry off the deer carcass whole, rather it's going to tear out chunks at a time and carry them take-away style back to the nest. If not feeding young, it just might dine in on the spot, only flapping away if threatened by the appearance of larger scavengers.

In human terms, a normal average fit human may be able to life twice its body weight but can't hardly be expected to run an obstacle course carrying it. Half a human's body weight maybe, but not twice far less thrice.

Now in more 'modern' times, there have been a few sightings of giant and other unknown birds - critters that fall within the realm of study called cryptozoology. Having looked over the 'modern' (1850 to date) cryptozoological literature, most sightings prove to be ordinary birds though perhaps viewed out of their normal territory and thus somewhat unfamiliar to the viewer. Most unexplained avian species remain unverified and usually too small to be the sort of critter we've been looking for. Sightings of monster birds, while they exist, have never yielded up the sort of data that would have confirmed their reality. No dung, no feathers, no carcass, no bones. Unknown monster birds, if they do still exist, are running out of habitat to hide in; in fact they probably have run out of viable environmental living space. If they haven't been confirmed by now they probably won't ever be. Besides, any unknown North American birds, monster or otherwise, would have long since been shot out of the sky by trigger-happy Americans.

Conclusions: No flying bird that is or was contemporary with humans (like the America Indian) was capable of lifting up and carrying off anything other than perhaps a small infant; certainly not adults. Flying birds are lightweights - they have to be in order to lift themselves up into the air. The largest of the predatory flightless birds (terror birds) were probably capable of running down, capturing, and lifting up human adults, but that's not what the legends describe. But to a technologically unsophisticated Native American, living hundreds to thousands of years ago, a UFO abduction event might only have made natural sense to them in a Thunderbird related scenario.

Further Readings about Monster Birds:

Allan, Tony; "Beasts of the air" (in); The Mythic Bestiary: The Illustrated Guide to the World's Most Fantastical Creatures; Duncan Baird Publishers, London; 2008; pages 14-53.
Bord, Colin & Bord, Janet; "Giant birds and birdmen" (in); Alien Animals: A Worldwide Investigation; Panther Books, London; Revised Edition 1985; pages 109-135.
Clark, Jerome & Coleman, Loren; "Things with wings" (in); Creatures of the Outer Edge; Warner Books, New York; 1978; pages 165-194.
Mackal, Roy P.; "'Alice in Wonderland' birds" (in); Searching for Hidden Animals: An Inquiry Into Zoological Mysteries; Doubleday & Company, New York; 1980; pages 99-128.
Mayor, Adrienne; Fossil Legends of the First Americans; Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey; 2005.
Science librarian; retired.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Beautiful Bright BLUE JAY

Growing up in the Northeast I was always able to enjoy the beauty of the Blue Jay. As I got older and learned more about them I realized that the only thing that surpassed their beauty was their meanness. They are known as the 'Nest-Robbers' of the Northeast.

English: Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) – DeSo...
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
(Photo credit: 

Diet And Reason For Their Bad Reputation

They are a common sight nearly anywhere within the eastern half of the continent. Here they find lots of nuts, seeds, and insects to feed on. However, in the Spring they turn to eating the eggs of other birds as well as their already-hatched chicks.

What a lot of people don't know about a Blue Jay is that it can imitate a Sparrow Hawk's cry perfectly. They can send the small birds from any area flying to find coverts and other shelter to keep from being attacked from the would-be predator. While they leave their nests to seek cover the Blue Jays help themselves to eggs or young.

This behavior has earned the Blue Jay the bad reputation it so honestly owns. As the eastern forests are slowly cut away it opens up even more defenseless birds to these kinds of attacks. This increase in access to the smaller woodland birds has caused the aggressive and beautiful Blue Jay to thrive while warblers, vireos, and other small birds have populations that are shrinking.

Nest, Eggs, And Migratory Habits Of The Blue Jay

A Blue Jay nest can be found on a horizontal branch, a vine tangle, or a shrub. The nests are bulky yet quite compact. They consist of strips of bark, lichen, rags, grass, paper, string, moss, and twigs. They are lined using fine rootlets and then cemented together using mud.

They lay eggs that are a variable of colors. They are greenish, bluish, or buff and are spotted with brown.

They spend the Winter within the U.S. for the most part except the ones found in the Northernmost tip of the country. This part of the Blue Jay population can be partially migratory. They have expanded their range westward being seen more often in urban type areas and suburbs. Their scream is shockingly similar to the Red-shouldered Hawk.

When it is time to travel they do so in small family groups. This usually happens late in the summer or early in the fall.

Breeding and Courtship

The Blue Jay breeds in parks, residential areas, open woodlands, and in forests containing deciduous and conifer trees. The courtship ritual consists of a showing of male aerial prowess and a bobbing up and down before the female. Feeding the female is also a part of the courtship ritual.

The Blue Jays in the Northern part of the country will usually have one brood. The Jays found further South will enjoy longer warm weather and may have two to three broods.

In spite of their rather mean disposition they are a dazzling spectacle when they come into the yard. Beautifully marked and a bit larger than many of the birds in your back yard, they definitely command attention whenever they are present.